May 30, 2013

Review: Amber Frost by Suzi Davis

Grace Lynn Stevenson is an eighteen year old girl who recently moved with her wealthy, but busy parents to a new city. She's popular, pretty and rich - what more could a girl want? But deep down, she's sad, lonely and plagued by nightmares. 

When she meets Sebastian Caldwood at her new private school, she's inexplicably drawn to him and his strange tattoos. Sebastian always gets what he wants - he simply has to wish it; but he's fighting his own inner demons, and struggling to remember a past that eludes him. When he remembers that he is much older than he looks, he realizes that he's seen many people live and die, including Grace. 

Once Sebastian realizes his true nature and finds what he has been searching for the past hundreds of years, he also realizes that it is now up to him to protect Grace from the dangers that have plagued them throughout eternity.

Amber Frost really took my breathe away. Upon turning the first few pages, I wasn't sure what to expect. By the time I got to the end, I stopped trying to see where the story was leading me and just accepted the fact that Suzi Davis is full of surprises.

I will admit, I was beyond annoyed with Grace in the beginning. She's this pretty little rich girl, and she thinks this life of privilege means that she has to sacrifice her own happiness, wants, and desires. She allowed people to walk all over her and the constant worries she had about what other people thought grated my nerves. She almost had me wishing she was a spoiled brat instead. Thank goodness for Sebastian. After meeting him, Grace grows into herself, realizing that life doesn't always have to be filled with fake smiles and perfection. She can speak her mind, and she finds that she has a lot more to say than she ever thought she had the courage to. I went from wanting to slap Grace out of her stupor to admiring her and the strength and love she carries not only for Sebastian, but for the life she never thought she could have.

Ahhh, Sebastian. My kind of guy. Dark. Mysterious. Tattooed. Mm. Mm. MM. He's definitely strange and absolutely cryptic sometimes, but the guy's lived a long life, one he can barely remember, and Grace inadvertently turns his world upside down, a favor he returns with much reluctance but without much choice, thanks to his heart. He's strong, beautiful, genuine, and it's difficult not to fall in love with him along with Grace. He makes some major mistakes ~ living a long time doesn't make you perfect ~ but he always has the best intentions, and you can't help but forgive him even as you're angry.

The relationship between Sebastian and Grace is intense. It has it's incredibly highs and it's heartbreaking lows, but there's no denying the way they feel about each other. Grace's gushing could be a little much at times, but Sebastian is her first and only love, so I'll cut her some slack. I really enjoyed the fact that the author didn't even bring up the idea of instalove. She allows the characters' relationship to develop and build one block at a time, and when realization struck both of them, I could believe they'd fallen head over heels.

Suzi Davis has a beautiful writing style. The world she builds around Grace and Sebastian
reaches beyond the small universe either character believed to exist. Toward the end, everything expands, growing beyond anything the reader could expect. The twist is huge, the villain is unexpected (both in his appearance and identity), and the revelations discovered definitely had my mouth gaping open in shock. Fabulous first novel in this series: it develops the relationships, builds the obstacles, and raises just enough questions to leave us begging for more.

Highly recommend :)

Visit Suzi Davis via
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Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 29, 2013

Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart...

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough...

Charlaine Harris's last Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Ever After, has caused an uproar, receiving hateful reviews and even stimulating death threats toward the author. Just goes to show how involved readers become with their favorite characters, but to become threatening because a book didn't turn out the way you thought it should? Shame.

I honestly didn't think it was that bad. It wasn't great for a finale novel, but I enjoyed it mostly because I love the characters and I've followed Sookie's story for years, both with the books and with True Blood. I'm a huge fan, and not much is going to change that.

I did feel like Harris got bored with her story toward the end. The last few novels didn't live up to the hype and excitement that came with the first, oh, five or so... and the boredom not only showed in the author's writing style, but in the way she announced huge events and changes in the span of a few anticlimactic sentences that had an aura of "no big deal, let's just get this over with."

Harris has always given us a play by play of Sookie's life, down to the mundane moments, but when it came to the big stuff, the stuff that would get us excited and basically freaking out, she let it fall flat. Like I said, it's like Harris was ready a long time ago for Sookie's story to end, and it felt like she was trying to just get it over with as quickly as possible.

What I did love was the way she ended the novel. I've hidden my thoughts below, but I admired how Harris didn't do what everyone expected or hoped for. It was a pleasant surprise...

As for that ending that inspired temporary insanity in readers.... Well, click the little "spoiler" button to view at your own discretion.

I always thought that Sookie would end up with Sam. I never thought that she'd decide to become a vampire to be with Eric or Bill because, not only does she love the sun, but it just doesn't fit her. She's always contemplated having children and growing old with someone, and Sam, being her oldest friend, makes perfect sense. He's a genuinely good guy who a.) won't get her killed, b.) won't feed off her, and c.) won't exude every thought in his head (like a human would). Sam is just as sexy as the others, and he can give Sookie the life she wants, not being bound to the night or the convoluted vampire government.

I'm happy for you Sam ~ I'm glad you got the girl :).

I'm a little sad that Sookie's story is over, but honestly, it was long overdue. I'll always love Harris's characters and southern supernatural world. While her novels started reaching past their peak, I still read and enjoyed every single one if only because it gave me a little more time with Sookie, Eric, Bill, Sam, and all the others.

Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 25, 2013

Excerpt + Giveaway: The Liberator by Victoria Scott

Bad boy, meet bad girl.

Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn't like that mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.

When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard. 

With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.

Woohoo! I loved The Collector by Victoria Scott (Review here.) so I was more than stoked to discover I had this little gem of a sneak peak of the second book in the series, The Liberator. Not to mention that our lovely Victoria Scott is giving away a digital copy of The Collector. It's Dante time all year long ;). 

So without further rambling, here's the excerpt, as promised. (& keep scrolling to enter the giveaway!!)

When I open my eyes, the sun is trying to murder me. It’s shining on my face and making my head pound. Or maybe it’s my hangover that’s giving me the headache, but nonetheless—me and the sun?—we’re not on friendly terms.

Charlie murmurs beside me. My arms are still wrapped around her waist, and I suddenly realize I must have crashed out in her bed last night. If Grams wakes up and finds me here, she’ll run me a bath…and toss in the toaster.

“Morning, babe,” I whisper.

“Morning, hot stuff,” a distinctly male voice responds.

I whip around, my heart racing, and find Max sitting in a chair across the room. “You look so hot when you first wake up,” he says. He raises a hand to his hair. “Got that whole sexy bed head thing going on.”

Charlie doesn’t even move from her place, but I feel her laughing against me. “Your friend is kind of creepy, Dante,” she manages.

“Max, what the hell are you doing in here?” I ask, pulling the covers farther up even though I’m (regretfully) fully-clothed.

“Real question is, why did I wait so long to join you guys?” Max stands from his chair and cocks his head. A mischievous smile crawls across his face.

“No,” I say, trying to appear serious. “Don’t even think about it, dude.”

Max starts running in place, his smile widening farther until he looks deranged. “Ready or not!” Before I can stop him, Max races toward the bed and dives on top of us. “Oh! Oh it feels even better than I imagined.” He rolls back and forth across our bodies as Charlie laughs and I wonder why I’m friends with such a raging idiot.

With all my strength, I grab Max’s shirt and rotate him toward the edge. He falls off the side, his arms pin-wheeling. There’s a loud thud, and then nothing.

I wait for several seconds before leaning over to search for him. Max is lying face down on the floor, his arms and legs curled like a dead spider. “You’re not really hurt,” I say.

“I think you gave me spinal bifida. You need to call someone.”

“That’s a genetic disorder,” I respond with a sigh, collapsing back onto my pillow. A second later, he raises his head very, very slowly up from the side of the bed. It’s one of the more unsettling things he’s ever done. “Max, is there a purpose to this visit?” I ask. I want so badly to act like he’s annoying me. But he knows, and I know, that we both love this game: the one where I pretend he’s a pain in my ass, and he acts like a damn circus clown.

He stands up, crosses the room, and plops back down in the chair. “Valery sent me.”

I throw an arm across my eyes. “Of course she did.” Beside me, Charlie moves to get up and I immediately reach for her. She squeals and wiggles out of my grasp.

I watch as she walks around the bed and ruffles Max’s hair. The twenty-eight year old pants like a dog. It’s a bit disturbing considering Charlie’s seventeen. She eyes me with a grin. “I’ll make waffles.”

My face lights up.

“Yes,” she continues. “And bacon.”

I glance at Max and nod toward Charlie. “That’s my girl.”

“Damn straight,” he says.

“I’m still making breakfast for your birthday,” I call after Charlie. Then, looking at Max, I add, “My girl’s going to be legal soon.”

Max says, “Boom.”

YES! There's no lacking in the promise here. Love Dante. Love Max. Love Charlie. I really can't wait to immerse myself in their world once again.

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Good Luck & Enjoy!!

Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 24, 2013

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

I've put off writing this review for the simple fact that I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to say. I loved the unique ideas behind this book, the writing style is incredible, and the emotions are thick ... but... something just falls flat about the story.

The character development was great. Mac was an interesting heroine, living a double life that she can reveal to no one. The emotions stirred by the loss of her little brother and the actions/decisions that ensue as a result are genuine and help Mac grow from denial to acceptance. She's a wonderful character with the attitude and courage to keep us hooked on her.

Wesley was probably my favorite character, aside from Da. He's snarky, humorously egotistical (notice I didn't say cocky), and he gives Mac something she's never had before, causing our heroine to struggle as she grows beyond the boundaries of her secret life.

I loved the flashbacks Mac had, giving us glimpses of her time with Da, her Keeper grandfather. He had this simple, logical way of looking at the world, which was a refreshing breather from all the chaos and confusion that Mac is experiencing in the present.

The idea of filing the history of a life in the form of a replica of that person like a book in a library was unique, and you couldn't help but be curious about the details. I just didn't understand the point. Why store them at the risk of them waking and escaping out into the world, since that is the ultimate fear? The Librarians are capable of "blacking" or wiping them out, so I couldn't understand what the purpose was. Are they using the histories of these people for something bigger? Or are they stored just because that's they way it's been for as long as anyone can remember? And if so, why did the process begin?

Owen was a weird little tidbit. The "romance" (if you can call it that) between Owen and Mac was, like I said, weird. Mac goes against everything she knows when it comes to him, and while I understood her hope, there was something in her desire to help him that, again, didn't have a point.

Tying into that, I can get on board with curiosity, but Mac is so obsessed with the brutal past she sees in her new home that it consumes most of the first half of the story. Then chaos begins in the Archive, and readers are brought through the book with all these little loose ends that don't seem to connect, and while it makes for a pretty thrilling ride, it can be hard to keep track of what the story is actually about. When things are finally all tied together, while the ending is dressed up in a crazy battle to save the Archive and the people in the Outside, it felt anticlimactic in its explanations. It was like those old murder stories where you barely meet the butler in the beginning, never see him again, and lo and behold, he ends up being the killer. It just wasn't involved or complicated enough to fit with the buildup in the rest of the story.

Now, it may sound like I didn't enjoy The Archived, which is anything but true. Schwab's writing style and ability to suck readers into the action can't be ignored, and while I felt there were a few holes, there's a definite talent here. I'll be reading the next book because I loved the characters and I couldn't get enough of the writing. Maybe some of my questions will be answered in The Unbound (the second novel), and I'm looking forward to discovering more of Schwab's imaginary world.

Visit Victoria Schwab via
GoodReads ~ Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook
Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 22, 2013

Review: Storm of Arranon by R.E. Sheahan

Beneath Erynn's petite build, curly red hair, and startling blue eyes, lies a deeply hidden secret.If the truth about her were revealed, her life would be in danger. Her dream to be a fighter pilot would tailspin,crash, and burst into flames.

Jaer's wise brown eyes reflect his smoldering strength. An enigma, charismatic and moody, he is a physically powerful warrior who defends his world. A warrior afraid to love because of mistakes in his past.

When the presence of a marauding alien society is discovered on their planets, a struggle of life and death begins. Both Erynn and Jaer's worlds face annihilation.

A mysterious force plunges Erynn into Jaer's cold, dangerous, and beautiful world with its magical essence and living consciousness. Both the alien enemy and this strange inexplicable power purse Erynn.

(I received a copy of Storm of Arranon from the author for an honest review.)

I wasn't really sure what to expect from Storm of Arranon. I'm not a sci-fi fan, per say, but I do love fantasy, and this book has a pleasant mix for lovers of both genres. 

Erynn is a strong and admirable heroine, someone readers will relate to and root for. Suddenly kidnapped from her home, she's thrust head on into a war on an unfamiliar planet with people who seem to know more about her than she does. She takes her fear and uses it, propelling her forward to do what needs to be done, learning who she is and what she is capable of. 

I liked Jaer and the "strong, silent" persona he exuded. He's a bit of a mystery, but his demanding presence is difficult to ignore. 

The romance between Erynn and Jaer felt forced to me, and I thought it was a little rushed. From the moment they met, we got glimpses of Erynn's gushing, and I just had a hard time believing it. I can understand instant physical attraction, but Erynn's feelings seemed to try to go deeper than that, and it just wasn't genuine.

The writing style is beautiful and very descriptive, creating a fantasy world that's effortless to envision. I did sometimes feel overwhelmed in the surroundings to the point that I lost my grip of what was actually happening, but I will definitely say that the author has a real talent for world building and will draw you into the story with her creative imagination. Arranon was amazing in its brutal beauty, with its unusual animals and unique people. 

Like I said, I'm not much of a sci-fi fan, but Storm of Arranon was a pleasant surprise. It's a book I'd recommend for science fiction and fantasy fans, and I feel it's a great read for an audience of any age group. 

Visit R.E. Sheahan via
GoodReads ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 21, 2013

Cover Love

I've written a post or two about how we most definitely judge a book by its cover. It's the first thing we see, the beginning spark between a reader and a book, and it's that initial attraction that draws us in. 

The other day, I came across a book I just had to share just because of the cover alone. Not only that, but if the cover was the hook, the the synopsis and the reviews were the line and sinker. 

A new killer is stalking the streets of London’s East End. Though newspapers have dubbed him ‘the Torso Killer’, this murderer’s work is overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes.

The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames – and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them.

Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where monsters stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight.

Beautiful isn't it? I love the abstract and elegant black against what looks like parchment, and in the middle of it all is this slash of red in harsh font. This one's going on display like a work of art on my shelf.

And gloomy, gaslit London in the midst of the Jack the Ripper era? How could I possibly pass the opportunity by? 


Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 17, 2013

On the Lookout

Been book browsing today, seeing what new releases might take up residence on my shelf this year, and it looks like I'm going to need to add a wing to my house.

The amount of series, trilogies, sagas, etc... is overwhelming. And of course when you buy the first, you have to buy the rest, so one story can take up half the shelf. It's truly a predicament, given the fact that most of the books on my TBR list are, nine out of ten, part of a series. It gets exhausting, sometimes, keeping up with all the sequels...


The first-world problems of a bibliophile.

But I digress... sorta...

The whole point of this post was to mention one book that caught my eye in particular, a book I'll be on the lookout for, ticking off the days on my calendar... It's a standalone, which I've been tending to lean towards in my book buying habits lately...

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark, from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman. 

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. 

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

That synopsis leaves a lot to the imagination, seriously amping up the mystery behind that beautiful cover. Plus, Neil Gaiman is famed for his fantastical mind, and I can't wait to see what he's come up with this time.

The Ocean at the end of the Lane is set to be released on June 18th, and for you lucky ducks who live near one of his stops, Gaiman is going on tour with this book this summer. (Check out the schedule here.) 

As for me who lives in rural Maine, most authors I follow tend to steer clear. At least I'll always have Stephen King as my neighbor. (Be jealous.)

Happy Reading Everyone :)


What is it about people and our desire to make up stories? Even if you aren't a published novelist, I'm sure you've caught yourself in an elaborate daydream, imagining all the things you could accomplish or all the turns your life could take based on a single decision or action. We imagine, and that in itself is a form of storytelling, even if it's only to ourselves.

Why do we love the art of storytelling? It's the truest art form, whether it's in the medium of paint or ink, everything we create out of passion tells a story. I'm an art lover, and I can appreciate the story told through a picture, but there's nothing, nothing, like the beauty of the written word. It's raw and deep and strikes us on a personal level whether we're ready for it or not, always full of surprises and joy and heartbreak.

Stories are really the core of us as human beings. They are what make us tick; force us to remember; give us hope. In some cultures, stories are the only form of history that keep a way of life living, and to stop telling them would mean the end of an era. Of traditions. Of a people.

In this literary and well documented world, histories and stories are now written down. There are more books in the world than any one person can read, meaning that stories surround and overwhelm us. People write and share, and in that way they offer a huge piece of themselves, giving us another perspective of not only the human mind, but the heart and soul.

Nothing saddens me more than to hear someone say that reading is boring or a waste of time. Reading isn't just about comprehending the words as they are in front of you, one by one, but feeling the meaning behind them. Understanding and knowing the story and the bigger picture that they form. Reading is like keeping a legacy alive. The stories of us and the beautiful imaginations that we possess.

It's amazing to read and see what people are capable of. What ideas they can come up with, whether they are ugly and brutal or peaceful and serene. What's even more amazing is to see what you can come up with if you open yourself up to it. That's the ingenuity of it all. There's so much you can discover. 

Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 16, 2013

Tour Stop: Review: Deer In Headlights by Staci Hart

What do the Greek gods do when they're bored? Because they're always bored, so humans are the perfect players in their games.

Aphrodite owns love; she hasn't lost a competition on her turf in over three millennia. Apollo is on a mission to win. He's counting on it to finally get the one woman he's never been able to have.

The two gods will choose their human players, and if Aphrodite can't get them together before the clock runs out, Apollo will get his way. And Aphrodite couldn't have that.

Lex and Dean are perfect for each other, they just don't know it yet. Dean is a perpetual bachelor, and a brooding, beautiful rock star. Lex is always with a man, but she'll never fully give herself up. Aphrodite has her work cut out for her, but if she can't make it work, no one can.

The gods have their own drama. Apollo killed Aprhodite's mortal love - they've got beef that's been dragging on for thousands of years. Ares, the douchebag, is forever trying to pick a fight, and trying to get Aphrodite into bed. And Persephone, Aphrodite's best friend, is the one person who Aphrodite shares everything with.

Follow the gods as they fight, laugh, cry, lose love, gain power, and make a mess with humans.

Deer in headlights -- she was paralyzed as her mind went a zillion miles in a split second. 

Deer in Headlights by Staci Hart is one of those novels you will read in a single afternoon. It's fast, fun, and emotional, and even at only 164 pages, this little book packs a pretty decent punch.

Greek mythology plays a prominent role, but with a modern twist. The gods still meddle in the lives of mortals, but their lifestyle has advanced significantly from what we learned about them in college. The personalities of each god or goddess are dynamic and nothing like the cut and dry text book versions that I studied in my art history classes. Hart gathers these legends of ancient history and gives them real voices we can all relate to.

And you think mortals have drama? Trying roaming through the world of the gods. These "people" have no competition when it comes to the shenanigans and pain they can conjure up against each other. Their relationships are strange, as all of them have some kind of history during which they tried to tear each other apart, but who can hold a grudge for centuries? They all forgive, but man, do they cause some damage when they're vengeful. Not to mention the little games they play with the hearts and fates of mortals.

If you're a sucker for bad-boys, you'll fall right in love with Dean. He's slightly screwed up, but throw that in with a splash of gorgeous and a boatload of heart-melting writing skills, and you've got yourself a combo that's difficult to ignore.

Lex is just as messed up as Dean, if not more so. He's got commitment issues, she's got abandonment issues. But each of them sees something in the other, something they can't resist, and the thick tension between them becomes a heady mix of desperation, fear, and hope.

Their relationship was... I really don't know how to describe it in one word. They were infatuated from the moment they set eyes on each other. They hit it off after a few exchanges, and after that, they're both done for. There's no going back. At first, I wanted to say that it felt rushed because their relationship went from 0-90 in about 6.7 seconds without a whole lot of dialogue between them, but with the role the gods play, and the intensity of the moments Dean and Lex share, I couldn't help but believe it and root for them.

The development of the characters was perfect, especially given the short span of the story. Main characters aside, the side characters really surprised me, and I found myself loving every single one of them. From the glimpses we get of the many gods lounging in Olympus to the spicy personality of Kara, Lex's best friend, to the laid-back demeanor of Travis, Lex's boyfriend (yup, that's right), I realized that I had completely fallen for them. As a character-driven reader, this is HUGE for me, and wanting to know and experience more of the characters, there's no way I'm not reading the next book.

Staci Hart has a hilarious writing style, but she knows when to be serious. It's this mix that brings comic relief at the exact perfect moment in the midst of all the drama ~ there's a lot of craziness, pain, and emotion between the world of the gods and that of the mortals, but you never feel overwhelmed; you're laughing too much for that. *Love* the combination.

Like I said, Deer in Headlights is a fast and extremely fun read. But although it's quick, there's so much packed into the pages, that you're not left wanting in the end.

Definitely recommend!

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom; she has three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife; even though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f, ends with k, and there a uc in there. Just saying. From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics. But let's be honest, she's mostly writing.

Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 14, 2013

The Bad Boy Motif: Overdone?

Yup. I will be the first to admit. What is it about the bad boy that makes us puddy in their capable (even if fictional) hands?

  • They are so wonderfully tortured. What is it about a guy with a haunting past that makes him so friggin' sexy? Maybe it's the strength they've had to build to endure, or the experience they've had with what life can bring. I can't quite nail that one on the head, but it is definitely a selling point, even without an explanation.
  • They're confident. (Sometimes on the verge of cocky, but let's not take that too far, okay boys?) They don't care what others think or believe about them, and there's nothing hotter than a guy who knows who he is. 
  • Bad boys seem to feel more deeply. You ever notice that they only care about what's real, what truly matters? Not saying they don't indulge in matters that skim the surface, but when they do come into contact with their emotions, it's usually in a big, dramatic way. I don't know about you, but raw emotion snags me every time.
  • Non-conformative. Different. Whether it's YA, New Adult, or Adult Fiction, I'll take the combat boots or plain black t-shirt over the suit or popped collar (gag) any day. 
  • Package that all together, and you've got mysterious, bold, and dark wrapped up with a bow of rebellion. What's not to like about that? 

Now that I've gushed over my admiration for the bad boy, I'm going to digress a bit. There are good bad-boys and there are bad bad-boys. What I mean by that is that, in the fictional world, the bad boy is becoming a dime a dozen, and some of them are giving the whole persona as a whole a... well, bad... and slightly annoying reputation. (Let's see how many times I can use the word "bad" in this post...)

Is the bad-boy being overdone? Maybe not overdone, but he's being done in all the wrong ways. Umm.. wait... Where was I? ... Remember when Twilight came out, and then BAM, there were so many vampire novels that you could hardly tell them apart? Some were awesome and original with no parallel to Twilight whatsoever, while others were basically just a retelling of the mega hit, which was, to put it in a word, "lame." The unoriginal retellings were the obvious "look at me" novels, riding on the success of a popular idea to make money and maybe gain a little fame.

Same goes with the character personality of the dark, rebellious guy. (Notice I'm trying to refrain from using the "b" word.) These characters can be amazing, incredibly captivating, and will seriously steal your heart. Examples? Noah Hutchins from Pushing the Limits. The slightly-over-cocky-but-it-works Dante Walker from The Collector. And how could I forget Daemon Black from the Lux series? All wonderfully created "bad-boys" that make room for a soft spot.

Lately, though, almost every book I read incorporates this personality, and lately, the appeal is beginning to fade. I'm currently listening to Alice in Zombieland, and while the idea of Cole Holland is nice, something about him just doesn't work. Maybe it's his insistence that he has the right to be overbearing and tell Alice what she will and will not do. Or maybe it's his instant obsession with Alice. I can't exactly put a finger on it, but there's a lot about him that has me wishing I had the ability raise one eyebrow (how do people do that?) in disbelief.

Others include the difficult-to-understand Daniel Grigori from Fallen. Or the pushy and vague Reed Wellington from Inescapable.

I wouldn't say these are underdeveloped or artificial characters per say, it just feels like they're trying to be someone they're not ~ like they're trying desperately to be mysterious and dark (either with a leather jacket or vague, witty, and slightly cryptic statements), but despite their best efforts, they just can't pull it off.

Moral to the story? Forcing bad-boy status on a character is like trying desperately to fit in with the flighty popular crowd. It doesn't make sense. If you're gunna use one of these amazing guys in a story, dig deep, let them tell you who they want to be, and don't push it too far. Too much, as with Cole Holland, will have readers (readers like me, anyway) wondering why the heroine still follows him around like a puppy dog.

And it just ruins the warm and fuzzy idea of the bad-boy. I don't know about you, but I never want him to get old.

What do you think? Do you think the bad boy is becoming a fad?

Happy Reading Everyone :)

May 8, 2013

Happily Ever Afters...

Typically, a "happy ending" is supposed to wrap things up beautifully, leaving you with a warm/fuzzy feeling, ending on a contented sigh and and a smile. Typically...

I've never been that fond of happily ever afters. It's not that I don't want the characters to end up where they want to be, it just seems so... cliche. Maybe not even that. Maybe it's because real life, while it has its moments, is quite unpredictable and, while things have a way of falling into place, it's never puzzle-piece fitting, neat and pretty and tied up with a big red bow.

Characters have a way of getting under your skin, of making you laugh, making you cry, breaking your heart... And while we all want those we care about to achieve what they desire most, sometimes it's just not in the cards, and to force it through unbelievable circumstances is just... it just botches the whole thing. You can't set up all these extraordinary obstacles only to have them fall at their own will in the end.

My idea of a great and believable ending? Although I know it isn't the end ~ it is the first in a series ~ The Immortal Rules made perfect sense. Allison's a vampire. A feared monster in the eyes of humans. As much as she'd love to, she can't stay with the people she's grown to care about. She can't be with Zeke, as much as she wants him. She needs their blood, and there's no way she'd survive or keep herself from killing without it. She doesn't compromise or try to pretend that maybe it will all work out. That everyone will get to know her and not see her as a monster. Instead, she does what she can, using her abilities to save those she loves and leaves them to the hard-won safety of their paradise. Maybe things will change for her, but she'd rather be alone than wish her curse/gift on anyone else. So for the meantime... She'll fight alone.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes a happy ending works. Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits and Dare You To both overcome obstacles and demons and land in a place of hope and promise. It's not forced, and while there is still some messy, it's beautiful and, most importantly, believable.

A forced ending would be like Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts. Roberts is the queen of romance novels and ever afters, but I just felt like the conclusion wrapped up way too smoothly given what we learned throughout the story. Lena's a wary and hesitant character when it comes to love, and even over the course of a few months, she holds on to her stubborn will to remain independent. But BAM... in the last few pages she flips a switch, and not even just admitting that she wants to be with the guy, but going so far as to propose marriage, and it's butterflies and rainbows and six kids for her and Declan.


Yeah, the cheese in that ending would leave you constipated for weeks. It's sweet and romantic, I guess, but for one, it's not realistic, and for two, it's totally not the Lena we've come to know. Like I've said ~ forced

I'll take a broken heart, frustration or even a smidgeon of the possibility of hope... heck, even the dreaded cliffhanger... over an ending I can't believe just so it can conclude on a smiley note.

So whattaya think? Are you a sucker for "happily ever afters," or would you rather keep it real? 

By now, you know my stance...

Happy Reading Everyone :)